It’s been cold here for weeks. Inside, we’ve been eating lots of soup and outside almost everyone is wearing socks and shoes and the last two days, galoshes due to the lovely el Niño’s. This is a real departure for southern California where everybody walks around in flip-flops.
Today after the torrential showers, the sun came out; I looked down at my grubby hands and feet, and decided since I needed my eyeglasses adjusted after I sat on them, I’d nip into the mani/pedi place up the stairs from Optical Designs on Montana. I think I have mentioned, there are on last count, more than eighteen places to get your nails done and to get waxed on Montana. I remember when there used to be stationary stores and hardware stores. And a nursery when I first moved here. A few blocks South on Wilshire there were even two or three bookstores I can think of. Ou sont les hardware stores, stationary stores and bookstores of yesteryear? They live on in my mind as wispy reminders of a slower, gentler time, when only rich people had cell phones. And sometimes no one could find a person for hours!
Most of the mani/pedi places are on the street –but this one, was hidden from the casual passerby, and after I ascended the stairs, when I stood in the door, two men pounced down on me and sat me down.
In fact they weren’t the only guys at the place, there were women workers, but more guy workers also. I spied one following a women into the secret recesses of the waxing room. Wow, things really have changed. By now, I had told my dynamic duo I didn’t want polish; I wanted very short nails and a buff. And they were both working away on me vigorously. It’s altogether different having two guys work on you.
Like everybody else, I’ve read a lot of the articles on the health conditions of the nail workers. How many of the girls and I do mean girls are running away from Johns and trying to live a decent life. And how once they try and live that decent life, they are succumbing to cancer from the fucking fumes of our nail polish.
Yes, since I know, it makes me uncomfortable to get mani/pedi’s much as I like how I look and I always try and get the story of the pretty girls who work on me, most of who come from Vietnam. (First we bomb the shit out of their beautiful country—then we welcome them with open arms only to exploit them and kill them!)
Oddly enough, none of these habitual liberal rants were going through my head as the boys worked on me. The foot boy with his cheese grater was going after every callous on my heels. And the hand guy was buffing, buffing, buffing each nail till it shone.
Did this dynamic dual also wax? One for the armpits, one for the snatch? I did not inquire for fear I would be forced to the back of the salon…
At the risk of sounding tacky, I think about the waxing issue often, since to do yoga on the west side of Los Angeles as often as I do, is to be side by side with the shiniest smoothest certainly the most hairless men and women on the planet. Lots of tattoos but nary a stray body hair –and this is as true of the men as well as of the women.
I guess this has registered with me on both a conscious and a subconscious level, since I wrote a scene in my new novel the other day, where one of the female characters, a very beautiful, trendy marketing person, wants her would -be lover to groom before they have at it.
Later, when the guy has at it with someone else, that someone else is confronted with a better-groomed male than she is. It all works out just fine, but it’s a moment that I’m guessing may be happening more often than we imagine out there in hook-up land.
To be waxed and groomed is to be living in the first world. And most pre- eminently to be living in LA.
Could hairless shiny tattooed, bodies be, along with Mickey Mouse and movie stars, The City Of Angel’s contribution to the zeitgeist?by